Uproar over proposed taxi rank switch

Taxi driver Pete Townend (left) with fellow taxi drivers, from left, Shaviq Ahmed, Kev Chamberlain and Dale Wilson who are unhappy about the siting of the proposed moving of the city centre taxi rank to New Street (behind).
Taxi driver Pete Townend (left) with fellow taxi drivers, from left, Shaviq Ahmed, Kev Chamberlain and Dale Wilson who are unhappy about the siting of the proposed moving of the city centre taxi rank to New Street (behind).
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PPROPOSALS to move the city’s main taxi rank to the “steep and cobbled” New Road in Lancaster have been branded ridiculous by residents and drivers.

The taxi rank and parts of the bus station in Dameside Street will be closed next year to allow United Utilities to carry out sewer work, which could take up to two and a half years, and Lancaster City Council needs to come up with a temporary location for the taxi rank.

Although a decision on the preferred site has yet to be made, taxi drivers say they have been told that New Road is the most likely temporary location.

Andy Kay, chairman of the Lancaster City Hackney Proprietors Assocation said: “They want to stick us in New Road, and a small part of Church Street.

“But you can’t get a wheelchair on that road, it’s too steep and cobbled.

“We asked them to give us Church Street, but they’re not allowing any vehicles through there during the day.

“The problem is we aren’t offering integrated transport and they’re going to remove the residents parking aspect to New Road as well.”

A New Road resident, who did not wish to be named, said: “The idea of having the main taxi rank for Lancaster city centre on a residential street is ridiculous.

“It seems that the taxi drivers are being consulted, but there’s been absolutely no consultation with residents about how it would affect us.

“It’s not a short amount of time, a year is not temporary when you have taxis outside your house at all hours, especially at the weekend.

“The taxi drivers don’t want it there, and we don’t want it there either.”

Pete Townend, who has been a Lancaster taxi driver for 19 years, said that New Road was far too steep and dangerous for the elderly and disabled people, too dangerous to load wheelchairs, and would be virtually unusable in winter.

He added: “It’s the worst thing that could happen to us.

“This area is just not appropriate for a taxi rank. I rely on the rank to do my work.

“If they take that away and put us here, I’ll go out of business.”

Ian Welsby, Lancashire County Council’s highways manager for Lancaster, said: “Several possible sites are currently being considered for the temporary relocation of the taxi rank and no preferred site has yet been identified.

“We’re working closely with United Utilities to minimise disruption as far as possible as a result of these works and will be working with them to consult on proposals over the coming months.”